Contrary to the Neighborhood Scuttlebutt, Krümel Is Alive and Well, at Least for the Time Being, at the Hotel Garni Herold
|Krümel Naps in Front of the Now Famous Sign|
"Wenn Sie ein Problem mit meiner Katze haben, melden Sie dies bitte nicht sofort Feuerwehr, Polizei oder Tierschutz, sondern rufen mich an unter 2 23 35."
-- Part of a sign posted outside the Hotel Garni Herold
The myriad of utterly insufferable indignities that attach themselves like leeches to old age are by no means limited to those supremely vain animals that strut around on two legs. Cats, too, feel the sting of these affronts but to be prematurely pronounced dead surely must be the most undeserving and revolting of all of them.
Nevertheless, that is the unkind fate that has befallen fifteen-year-old Krümel from the former Hanseatic city of Hattingen in the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. In keeping with her long established tradition, she likes to treat herself to a nap in the street out front of the Hotel Garni Herold at the corner of Krämersdorf and Kleine Weilstraße where she resides with her owner, seventy-six-year-old proprietress Jane Herold.
When she does, her tiny head droops forward in an unnatural position that makes it appear auf den ersten Blick that she has departed this world. The fact that she some time ago lost her right eye to an infection coupled with her habit of sleeping out in the rain and heat only serves to reinforce that misconception.
Even those individuals prone to be considerably less pessimistic mistakenly believe that at the very least she must be either ill or hungry. As a result, concerned passersby have taken it upon themselves to telephoning the fire department and the police.
Tierschutz personnel also have been summoned to the fashionable bed and breakfast on at least twenty occasions and Herold's daughter even once intercepted firemen carting off Krümel (Crumb in English) in a trap. One man even went so far as to take her to a veterinarian but that did not accomplish anything positive.
"Ich bekam einen Anruf, ich möge bitte meine Katze abholen," Herold related to Der Westen of nearby Essen on August 22nd. (See "Aufregung um 'scheintote' Katze in Hattingen.") "Aber jetzt reicht es wirklich, das kostet mich und auch die Katze viele Nerven."
Clearly, something had to be done in order to put an end to these unwarranted assaults, not matter how well intentioned, on Krümel's liberty. Even more alarming, all of the abductions and precipitate interventions by the authorities sooner or later could have spelled doom for her.
In their rush to judgment, all of them overlooked the petit fait that she is perfectly healthy and, with luck, should be around for many more years. "Krümel geht es gut," Herold affirmed to Der Westen. "Sie ist zwar alt, aber noch fit."
After having given the matter considerable thought, Herold decided upon placing a sign in front of her hotel in order to let passersby know in no uncertain terms that Krümel is neither hungry, sick, nor dead, but only a little crazy. "Wenn Sie ein Problem mit meiner Katze haben, melden Sie dies bitte nicht sofort Feuerwehr, Polizei oder Tierschutz, sondern rufen mich an unter 2 23 25," she added.
So far, the sign appears to be having its intended effect. "Ich merke schon, wenn hier Leute vorbeigehen, dass sie zögern and gucken," Herold told Der Westen on August 30th. (See "'Scheintote' Katze Krümel wird zum Medienstar.")
Soon after the sign was erected the Hattinger Zeitung ran a story on Krümel and that ignited a media firestorm. Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) of Köln stopped by for two and one-half hours of interviews.
RTL television and radio of Köln spent three hours at the hotel conducting interviews and filming. Even Bild, the mass circulation daily from Berlin, did a story on her.
Krümel somehow got wind of what was afoot and in true feline fashion refused to indulge the media. "Die war ganz munter, als ob sie das geahnt hätte," Herold related to Der Westen in the August 30th article cited supra. "Als alles vorbei war, da lag sie dann wieder wie tot da."
At first Herold was astounded by all the media hoopla but she gradually adjusted to it and ended up taking it in stride. "Ich fand das ganz nett und habe mich dazu bereiterklärt (mit WDR)," she told Der Westen on August 30th. "Als dann noch RTL and die Bild Zeitung anriefen, habe ich schon überlegt."
Her guests at the hotel likewise have become caught up in Krümel's newfound fame. "Die fanden das spannend," Herold told Der Westen on August 30th.
|Krümel and Jane Herold|
Krümel's notoriety also possibly could be good for business at the quite reasonably priced hotel that Herold has operated for the past forty-five years. In particular, two individuals from nearby Bottrop have informed Herold that they came all the way to Hattingen just to see Krümel.
In addition to Krümel, Herold has a French bulldog, believed to be named Pauline, and the duo are said to get on famously together. "Die beiden lieben sich," she told Der Westen on August 30th.
Being not merely a lover of cats and dogs, Herold's compassion for animals extends to foxes as well. That is even all the more remarkable in that a red one beat her out of about a week's worth of free lodging a few years ago.
After having gained entry into the hotel via Krümel's cat flap, the fox took up residence in one of the vacant rooms on the ground floor. He even helped himself to Pauline's toys.
"Er ist wunderschön, so suß, so rostbraun," Herold raved to Der Westen on May 15, 2008. (See "Zimmer frei für Reineke.")
The only real problem arose when her overly enthusiastic guests began hounding him for photographs. "Wenn es ihm zu viel wurde, ist er mal kurz unterm Bett verschwunden, aber danach hat er sich auf dem Sofa niedergelassen," she told Der Westen.
Ultimately she was forced to call in the Hattinger Ordnungsamt and a hunter in order to forcibly, but humanely, evict the nonpaying guest. Ever since that time she makes certain that Krümel's cat flap is secured well before nightfall and, as a consequence, the fox has been forced to seek shelter elsewhere.
|Entrance to the Hotel Garni Herold|
Although luck has been on Krümel's side so far, that in no way minimizes the grave danger that she has been placed in as the result of Herold's inattentiveness and lack of concern. Furthermore, if she were living anywhere else other than in Deutschland this story very well could have had an altogether different denouement.
For example in Herold's native England, veterinarians make a living off of killing elderly cats that are picked up off the street. That is precisely what Blythman and Partners of the Gosforth section of Newcastle-upon-Tyne did with Beverley Hume's twenty-five-year-old cat, Ginger, last October 13th. (See Cat Defender post of January 11, 2012 entitled "A Deadly Intrigue Concocted by a Thief, a Shelter, and a Veterinary Chain Costs Ginger the Continued Enjoyment of His Golden Years.")
The RSPCA is even worse in that it earnestly believes that it is endowed with a god-given right to liquidate all elderly and sick cats. (See Cat Defender posts of October 23, 2010 and June 5, 2007 entitled, respectively, "RSPCA Steals and Executes Nightshift Who Was His Elderly Caretaker's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband" and "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated.")
In the United States, cats need to be especially wary of trigger-happy cops. (See Cat Defender posts of March 31, 2008, September 16, 2009, July 8, 2010, September 22, 2011, and March 22, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Cecil, Pennsylvania, Police Officer Summarily Executes Family's Beloved Ten-Year-Old Persian, Elmo," "Acting Solely Upon the Lies of a Cat-Hater, Raymore Police Pump Two Shotgun Blasts into the Head of Nineteen-Year-Old Declawed and Deaf Tobey," "North Carolina State Trooper Who Illegally Trapped and Shot His Next-Door Neighbor's Cat, Rowdy, Is Now Crying for His Job Back," "Neanderthaloid Politicians in Lebanon, Ohio, Wholeheartedly Sanction the Illegal and Cold-Blooded Murder of Haze by a Trigger-Happy Cop," and "In Another Outrageous Miscarriage of Justice, Rogue Cop Jonathan N. Snoddy Is Let Off with a $50 Fine for Savagely Bludgeoning to Death an Injured Cat.")
On the positive side of the ledger, they do not have much to fear from firemen because they are too lazy to even rescue those that get stranded in trees and on utility poles, let alone to do anything more malicious to them. (See Cat Defender post of March 20, 2008 entitled "Bone-Lazy, Mendacious Firefighters Are Costing the Lives of Both Cats and Humans by Refusing to Do Their Duty.")
In Krümel's case, a far greater concern is that she will be stolen by someone who truly believes that Herold is neglecting her. That is what happened to seventeen-year-old Slim from Ottawa in 2007. As far as it is known, he never was returned to his owners, Michel Giroux and Tanya Guay. (See Cat Defender post of July 9, 2007 entitled "Hungry and Disheveled Cat Named Slim Is Picked Up Off the Streets of Ottawa by Rescuer Who Refuses to Return Him to His Owners.")
A very similar fate nearly befell Richard Smith's seventeen-year-old cat, Tazzy, in Melksham, Wiltshire, earlier this year. (See Cat Defender post of June 26, 2012 entitled "A Family in Wiltshire Turns to Social Media and Leaflets in Order to Shame a Veterinary Chain and a Foster Parent into Returning Tazzy.")
|One of the Hotel Garni Herold's More Illustrious Guests|
By far and away, however, the greatest threat to Krümel's continued well-being comes from motorists. Even more alarmingly, this is a fear that Herold is fully cognizant of but yet, for whatever reason, steadfastly refuses to do anything about eliminating.
"Wenn sie einmal liegt, dann liegt sie und steht für nichts und niemanden mehr auf," she confided to Der Westen in the August 22nd article cited supra. "Off schläft sie mitten auf der Kleinen Weilstraße und die Autofahrer müssen um sie herumkurven."
For Herold to allow Krümel to unwittingly place her fragile life in mortal danger day after day is not only insane but irresponsible as well. Cats should not be allowed to venture out into traffic under any circumstances. There simply are too many cat-haters who get their perverted kicks by running them down.
In Plymouth, Devonshire, Casper made quite a name for himself a few years back by riding the bus all by his lonesome. All the good times ended abruptly, however, when he was run down and killed by a hit-and-run motorist.
His owner, Susan Finden, got a book deal out of that tragic turn of events and most likely that was the important thing as far as she was concerned. (See Cat Defender posts of August 27, 2009 and January 30, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Casper Treats Himself to an Unescorted Tour Around Plymouth Each Morning Courtesy of the Number Three Bus" and "Casper Is Run Down and Killed by a Hit-and-Run Taxi Driver While Crossing the Street in Order to Get to the Bus Stop.")
Not too far away in Bridport, Dorset, Fee James has placed the life of her fifteen-year-old cat, Dodger, in grave jeopardy by callously allowing him to follow in Casper's ill-fated footsteps. (See Cat Defender post of January 25, 2012 entitled "The Innocence of the Lambs: Unaware of the Dangers That Threaten His Very Existence, Dodger Charms Commuters on the Bridport to Charmouth Line.")
The sign that Herold has erected may thwart the designs of both the authorities and busybodies but it, like implanted microchips, will do absolutely nothing in order to protect Krümel against the evil intentions of motorists. If she truly values Krümel's life, she immediately will rectify her past mistakes by keeping a closer eye on her.
Above all, she must keep Krümel out of the street. Since she obviously has plenty of money, it would not kill her to install some cat fencing. Inside the enclosure she could provide Krümel with a winterized shelter, food, water, and toys.
Since cats are allotted such terribly brief sojourns upon this earth it is a crime for any of their time to be cut short by even so much as a minute. In Krümel's case, she deserves nothing less than to be afforded the opportunity to live out the remainder of her golden years in a safe and secure environment. The very last thing that she needs is to end up like Casper.
Photos: Udo Kreikenbohm of Der Westen (Krümel), Der Westen (Krümel and Herold), Hotel Garni Herald (entrance to the inn), and Svenja Hanusch of Der Westen (fox).